Case 1: an organisation provided clear evidence of public benefit in advancing religion
We received an application to become a charity from an order of nuns who intended to re-establish a former convent.
The plans for the convent looked to be very limited, and we were concerned whether the activities would benefit the public or be confined within the convent itself.
The sisters provided clear evidence with their application that their planned activities focused on the local community. These included providing facilities open to the public for prayer and reflection, and advancing religion through outreach work with children and young people in the area through talks at schools, retreats and seminars.
It was clear that the order intended to provide public benefit in advancing religion. The application to become a charity was successful.
Case 2: an organisations public benefit outweighed it private benefit
A small church group based in worshippers’ houses applied to us to be registered as a charity.
The applicant’s intended activities to advance religion were straightforward. However, we had concerns that the salary of the pastor who would lead worship would be a percentage of contributions received from those attending. We had to make sure that access to the benefit through worship would not be unduly restricted based on a required financial contribution from worshippers. We also had to examine how the private benefit to the pastor compared with the intended public benefit.
During the application, the applicants were able to assure us that the contributions were voluntary. They also showed that they were considering the appointment of a pastor in a way that would make sure any private benefit was incidental to the provision of public benefit.
We found that the group’s intended public benefit would outweigh the private benefit to the pastor, and that access to that benefit was not unduly restrictive based on a financial contribution. The application to become a charity was successful.